Jürgen Klopp declared his immense pride at being in charge of this Liverpool squad that he believes has now created its own chapter in the club's rich history.
The Reds were confirmed as Premier League champions for the very first time on Thursday evening, clinching the title with a record-breaking seven fixtures remaining in the 2019-20 campaign.
It ended a 30-year wait for the top-flight crown and, speaking exclusively to Liverpoolfc.com the morning after the celebrations, the boss detailed just how his players were able to achieve the monumental feat.
Watch the full interview via LFCTV GO now, or read on for a full transcript…
How do you feel right now, Jürgen?
Good! Pretty good. Honestly, it’s still not settled, still not really got it, but it feels brilliant. It was big and it was a wonderful experience. The whole ride is a wonderful experience but especially last night. It was very special. When people spoke about it and thought maybe it’s better to win it against City when we play them [next week] on the pitch, but honestly after the 97 points ride last year plus extension with the Champions League, and this season, and all the years before chasing the Champions League spot, I was thinking I want it as early as possible. So, I was completely fine with last night. There was a nice little side story that Christian Pulisic had his hand in it with a really nice goal. Honestly, I couldn’t feel better. It’s just a big relief and it feels like freedom, whatever, I don’t know exactly. It’s good.
How nice was it that you were all together last night? I’m not sure how much of a part you played in making it happen, but the group all able to enjoy that moment together…
Look, so many people would have deserved to be part of this last night. So many more people than there were last night. But we had to make decisions. We all had to make decisions and the decision was everybody who is at Melwood in the moment with us every day and got tested twice can be there, no other people. So we did it without families of course, we did it without the wives as well. It was just the team and the staff around, but that was the minimum that we had to do. You couldn’t or I cannot imagine how it would have been had we been all alone at home. Yes, with our families but still kind of alone and not with the players together, how that would have felt. So it was perfect. It was perfectly organised. Nobody had a long time to organise it obviously. We decided to do it after the game against Crystal Palace, we will give it a try. It was big, a big emotional moment. The final whistle was a big moment.
Was it a kind of night when you spoke to the players or did you just want to see them celebrating?
I think it would have been appropriate to speak but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I realised when I started doing the Sky TV interview when the tears came up and then I spoke to Ulla. I had no chance to say a word, I just cried and if I’d have spoken to the players they wouldn’t understand me, so it was not the right moment to do. I have enough opportunities to tell the boys what I think about them and how thankful I am and how much I appreciate their effort they put in, the determination, desire, everything. But they should understand me in that moment and it was not possible last night.
Anybody you speak to who has won their first championship say it’s the hardest competition to win. The consistency, the relentlessness that you’ve shown again this year, you’ve done it quicker than anybody. The achievement is just absolutely incredible…
It is and what I obviously realised last night as well. So, 2.30am or around about I was in bed and couldn’t sleep. Then everything goes through your mind. Honestly, I know football fans are like this and say now, ‘Liverpool is the best team in the world.’ I’m not interested in this competition, I’m really not, but I don’t think it’s possible for any other team in the world to be 20-odd points ahead of Manchester City in a competition like this. Now people say, ‘Maybe the league is not that competitive this year.’ Well, play it once! Try it. Try and play against Chelsea, play against all the others, play against Leicester City, Burnley, Norwich, Southampton, whatever. Play them and win consistently, that’s so incredibly difficult. And the boys, last year 97 points with losing one game to City, then showing up again this year, this consistency is incredible. If I would have an explanation for it, then 100 per cent I should probably write a book about it.
It’s just a mix of skill and attitude – and the absolute understanding of the needs of this club and the supporters. That’s what this team is, they understand 100 per cent. I thought a lot about what we did in the last few years and I think one of the most important things I said – I had no idea how important this was when I said it – was we have to write our own story and create our own history. Because that’s what was necessary and that’s what these boys have done now. This is an active thing, we created our own story and history and didn’t try to do what our wonderful dads and grandfathers did with this club. That gave us the opportunity to feel free enough to do what the boys did. So I’m really, really happy for them because they were legends before that in my mind, but now they are real legends and that’s nice.
It's a big weight of expectations, isn't it? Liverpool has this history but the fact you've managed to rewrite it almost makes the achievement even bigger...
Yeah, but it's probably not a fair competition with comparing with other managers before me because it was probably just the right time. I'm not sure how it would have been 10 years into the chase of the Premier League title, how that would've been like because the memories of the people are probably too fresh. We had our supporters as well, [who] wanted to have their own story and their own history. That maybe made it easier, I don't know. I can imagine when Kenny came in the second time, I watched this documentary – I knew obviously about his career but not that much in detail. I watched this documentary, so pretty much like a player winning everything, being the best player ever for Liverpool and then becoming manager and being that successful – unbelievable. Going through what he had to go through, all that stuff, it's 100 per cent clear when he came in the second time that the expectations will not only be big because of the history of the club, but because of his own history. You think, 'Kenny Dalglish walks in the door and here we go again.' He's a really good example of how successful you can be and how humble you can stay. A wonderful role model. He texted messages last night and it's really so nice to have these players around.
I said last night and I really mean it, this is really built on the soul of these players, what they did at Liverpool, because of the iconic managers we had in this club. We should not forget that the main weight is carried by the players on the pitch. There were so many great players – they won everything, like Graeme Souness, Kenny and this generation, Alan Hansen. But then later, what Stevie had to carry, I cannot imagine, I cannot imagine. Because the game is around him and together with Carra probably, they stayed at the club for their whole career and the others came in, left again and stuff like this. So they had to carry all this weight and I was happy that this awful song is killed forever because this makes no sense anymore. I'm really happy and it was really built on Stevie's legs and on Stevie's shoulders as well, so I'm really happy for him.
I think one of your biggest achievements is that the team is the star now, isn’t it? It’s not about individuals anymore…
It is, but these individuals make a team. It is about individuals and we can’t underestimate how influential they all are. But to be really influential you have to realise and to live the team. That means what do you bring in? Last night when we sat together – I think I was sat together with Trent – if you would give me now a list of five million players, I would love to pick these 25, 30 boys and say I want to do it with them. Because they are so incredibly close, because they understand how important it is to be self-confident on a high, high level but not overly confident that you think you are more important than others. Because without the others, we are nothing – absolutely. This game shows that every day and what I love so much about this game is that it keeps us humble. This game keeps us humble and helps us understand life in the best way. Football was the best teacher for me for life, always. Yes, people needed me when I was a player, but they don’t need me so much that they cannot exist without me and that gave me the freedom to be who I am.
You've got so many leaders in the dressing room but your captain Jordan Henderson has been a leader on and off the pitch. How special a person is he and how pleased are you for him?
I think to understand the story of Jordan Henderson, you cannot underestimate and should not forget that he had the most difficult job in world football – becoming captain after Steven Gerrard. I would have had in this age no skill to do so. Because it's not about who you are, it's about who the other one was and, 'Why is Steve not here anymore?' You cannot just step in and say, 'So we do it like this or like that.' How he dealt with that from the first day I met him and he was already skipper for half a year or so, he was exceptional. How he grew in that role and, of course, how the way we play football helped him to be himself on the pitch 100 per cent. That all came together and I couldn't respect Hendo more. I know he will realise that all later after his career, how big an achievement it was what he did here. In the moment he's in the middle of his career and still greedy and desperate to win more stuff. But in 10 years when he looks back, he will be very, very proud of what he has done here.
You've spoken about it still being important to have a parade with the fans when the time is right and it's safe to do so. Is that still the case?
I have a dream of that, honestly. It's like that. For me, whenever it's possible to do so we just should say, in four weeks after game x, y, z, whatever it is, in whichever situation we are in – winning or losing, hopefully not losing, fighting for the Champions League or fighting for the title – we should give ourselves the opportunity to do so. Tell the people four or five weeks before, 'So here it will be.' Then we decide how good it will be. Usually we play a final the night before or play a game the night before and the next day is the parade, so nobody can really plan it, it's really difficult. A lot of people who watch the game cannot make it to the parade. Nobody can tell us when we celebrate what, we decide that. It's too big an achievement to not celebrate it, honestly. With all my power in this club, I will try to make it happen. I'm not sure if I can, but I will try everything to make it happen and then we can show the best face of this wonderful club and can show it to the whole world.
What does the city of Liverpool and its people mean to you?
I said before, this city is obviously music and football. Both things mean emotion. It's just great to do it for these people because you know how much it means to them. Everybody I met now when I came here in the car park, I know what it means to them and I know how hard it is not to celebrate together. But on the other side, nobody can ever tell these kind of stories from winning a title because usually you are somewhere and you lose yourself, maybe because you're running around, 'I saw this and so many impressions.' This time we all are pretty much similar – so the television, sitting there and waiting for the next word of somebody, want to watch it, want to know it, want to know how many people are in the same situation like I am. It makes it really special. Not maybe how we want to have it but it makes it special. Even now, in this city we have to stay disciplined, that's how it is. But there are so many ways to celebrate the things with your families and stuff like that, on phones. We know there will be something in the future where we can look at. These people deserve it so much. I think, how it always is, success in football lifts the mood of the city always and I hope we can use that for the better for all parts which are necessary for this city.